I did it! 50,000 words, with a day to spare.
Not that the first draft is actually entirely finished, there's still more work to be done. Not a huge amount more needs to be written before it's finished, but it's a lot of toing and froing. Because of the narrative framing of this story, I ended up whizzing through the second act right to finale a little quickly and the final ten thousand words were mostly inserting into earlier sections, sprinkling bits throughout to flesh it out more. Not just cosmetic additions but real content that needed to be there in the first place. It was content that I hadn't got straight in my brain, stuff I hadn't, and probably couldn't have planned for, but which became utterly essential, especially if it was going to make the story up to the 50,000 words that NaNoWriMo demanded of me. (Obviously, if I felt the book wanted to be a novella, I would have left it so, and let NaNoWriMo be damned. It did want to be a full novel in the end though, so I had to power on through.)
On my last news post I mentioned the cycle writers go through (and all other artists) of liking and disliking their work. Right now I'm in that tough place of not really liking what I've just written, constantly worrying that it's no good, that it's unreadable rubbish. Hopefully I'll pull myself out of it soon, but it's not been the easiest thing to get through the last ten thousand words for that reason as well as the structural difficulties of going back into the work to find out where I was able to put those damned words in.
Motivation and effort conspired agin me in that last push, but I made it, I made it. Reaching a milestone always feels so good, so in that sense officially participating in NaNoWriMo has been a very worthwhile experience. It did help to keep me going and has felt like a reward. The only downsides are that I could probably have benefitted from a proper midway planning session to take a look at where the story was, where it was headed, what needed changing and so on, but I didn't want to take a day out of writing and fall behind, which is partly what led to the whole reinserting issue. The impending deadline had its limitations in that regard. Perhaps I would have been able to justify a day out for planning if I hadn't had an unproductive week not feeling very well in the middle of the month. Perhaps...
I'm damned glad I did it, I've almost finished this first draft and it should be ready to send out for some beta reading very soon, which feels very good, knowing that this first draft will actually be able to be seen by others' eyes. A sweet feeling of accomplishment, basically. This post has just been smarmy 'look-at-what-I-did' , for that I apologise, and I want to thank my writing buddies on the NaNoWriMo website; seeing others' word counts was really good motivation, trying to race against others, keeping my head above water, and I wish everyone who's participating the best of luck, even if they don't get to the deadline, because you can write a novel whenever you want, not just November, so any words written is always a good thing, no matter the number.
Right, now I'm going to open one of my nice Belgian beers in mild celebration.